NCRA Holiday Pop-Up Store starts Nov. 20

Just in time for the holidays, and for the first time ever, NCRA will have a pop-up store from Nov. 20 to Dec. 2. The two-week online store allows time to order and receive your merchandise for holiday giving.

Visit the store.

The store will offer a variety of holiday items and apparel. All purchases from the NCRA Holiday Pop-Up Store will help benefit court reporting and captioning students and new professionals by supporting NCRF’s New Professional Grant, Student Intern Scholarships, and the NCRA A to Z® Scholarships.

The link to the store will be sent out in email on Nov. 20. Watch during the two weeks for announcements about specially priced items.

NCRA Board meeting registration open

NCRA members are invited to attend the Nov. 14 open session of the Board of Directors meeting being held virtually from 9 a.m. to approximately 12 noon Eastern. Registration for the meeting closes at 4 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 13. The afternoon will be devoted to strategic planning dialogue for the Board members only.

NCRA Board meetings are open to members who wish to observe their elected leaders in action.

Effective governance requires that Directors feel comfortable engaging in frank, open, and direct conversations as they attempt to identify, assess, and ultimately decide among all possible options for action. Members observing the meeting should keep this in mind and listen with an open mind. Opinions expressed or comments offered by individual Board members in the course of discussions prior to formal action by the Board should not be construed as the official position of the Board or the Association.

Both as a practical matter and for legal reasons, the minutes of the meeting are the final and only official record of the meeting and its actions.

The agenda for the Board meeting will be posted to the NCRA website after registration closes.

Don’t wait until the last minute to register!

Renew and win in October

It is the season to renew your NCRA membership. Renewing now enters you to win in October. One member who renews in October will win a $100 Pengad gift certificate.

 Get a second chance to win this month by answering the poll question about printed renewal invoices at the bottom of the Oct. 21 JCR Weekly. It was also sent in an email to members. If you know how you will be renewing, please let us know as we start to print renewal invoices. Not printing an invoice lets NCRA more effectively use your money!

If you know you will need a printed renewal invoice to submit to your employer, just let us know. But, if you are renewing online or by phone anytime between now and the end of the year, then help us save some money by opting out of a printed invoice. One person who responds to this question will be chosen to receive a $50 Amazon gift card!

Member benefits include:

  • A listing in the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online Skills Tests and Written Knowledge Tests designed to help your earn more
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Conference & Expo, Boot Camp, and Business Summit
  • Premier educational opportunities

In addition, NCRA membership aids the profession by giving NCRA the funding to pursue projects that benefit the profession as a whole. These include developing marketing materials, promotional information, serving as a repository for shared information, creating networks that allow lessons learned in one state to reverberate in others, responding to negative (and positive) comments, and so much more. If you want a brighter future for the profession, join with other NCRA members who share your passion and renew today.  

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew.

Mental health awareness webinars draw high interest among members

Response to the free webinars held last week to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week drew high interest from members. A total of six live webinars led by mental health experts aired throughout the week observed Oct. 5-9. They were offered to help members invest in their own mental health by learning more about how to take care of themselves. The discussions ranged from the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in everyday life with better self-care.

“I want to thank everyone who attended the webinars held to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week,” said NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Beach, Fla. “I hope you found them valuable and were able to collect some helpful insights and potential tools to encourage and maintain strong mental health for yourself and for those important to you in your life. Please stay strong during these stressful times and remember that each of you are part of the NCRA family. Together we are stronger,” she added.

Although no CEUs were offered for these sessions, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), which sponsored the sessions, felt that the important topics addressed should be made available to all NCRA members and arranged to have each of them recorded for future viewing. NCRA members can access the webinars on the Association’s Mental Health Resources page.

The sessions included:

An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from
All Stakeholders,
which was an open town hall discussion conducted by
Dori Foster-Morales, Esq.; NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR; and the Hon. Beatrice Butchko of how our jobs in the legal field affect our mental health and how we can protect ourselves. The discussion confronted some of the myths and fears about mental health and provided insight and understanding into how we can help ourselves and others when it comes to mental health issues.

Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic, which
was led by Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH, DFAPA, the Charles B. West chief medical officer at Skyland Trail, a nationally acclaimed treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses based in Atlanta, Ga., and a nationally recognized speaker on issues in psychiatry, mental health, professionalism, and wellness. The session focused on the psychological impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, from social isolation to increased sleep disturbances and chronic worry and anxiety. Kotwicki also talked about how to differentiate when feelings are “normal” during such unprecedented times and when they suggest more serious problems, and more.

Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality, which was led by Vicki Akenhead Ruiz, FAPR, RPR, CMRS (Ret.), a former court reporter and a past NCRA president. Ruiz talked about approaches to dealing with the stress coming from working in the courtroom and how stress affects reporters. In addition, she shared tips for dealing with loss and how to strengthen your overall mental health.

Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic,
which was led by Dr. Sherry Cooper, LMFT, who addressed how to balance the responsibilities of being a student and taking care of yourself. Dr. Cooper also introduced the topic of self-care, its importance to your overall well-being, ways to engage in self-care, and the repercussions of neglecting self-care.

Practicing Mindfulness, which was led by Debi Galler, the general counsel of Green Street Power Partners, a developer, owner, and operator of solar projects throughout the United States based in Connecticut and a mindfulness practitioner and trainer. Galler explained how mindfulness can play a meaningful role in the lives of legal professionals and how mindfulness can change the structure and function of the brain in the areas of attention, emotional regulation, and memory. 

Self-Care 101, which was led by Aigner Fells, MS, a psychotherapist who provides therapy for individuals, couples, groups, and families and takes a holistic approach to bring awareness to her clients and helps them work to develop strategies and reach desired goals. She discussed the issue of burnout syndrome and how self-care can set the stage to counter burnout, which, in turn, releases physical and emotional toxins. Throughout the webinar, participants learned about the effects of burnout syndrome and how to be better equipped with tools and strategies for implementing self-care as part of their daily routine.

Getting some help with mental health

Survey results from the JCR Weekly

What are you doing to make time for yourself and provide self-care?

4.5% — I meditate.

24.2% — I try to eat healthfully.

40.6% — I exercise regularly.

10.7% — I make sure I take a lunch break.

20.1% — Chocolate!

Providing self-care right now is more important than ever, and NCRA members are finding different ways to make it happen.

Christina Diaz, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter from Lindenhurst, N.Y., is practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

“I started a daily practice of MBSR, and although there are many variations, what has been extremely helpful for me is simply sitting quietly for about 10-12 minutes each day,” Diaz said. “During this quiet time, I direct my attention to a simple short phrase, repeating it over and over again. If my mind wanders, which it inevitably and constantly does, I simply begin again. Following my quiet time, I write in a notebook everything that comes to mind, whether or not I think it makes sense, just let it flow, without editing, without judgment. I just clear out all the extra chatter that floats around.”

Diaz said that within the first couple weeks she felt more clear-headed and balanced, and she has even noticed it has benefited her work.

“I was less reactive, and I felt like I was better handling the daily stress and the uncertainties of life,” Diaz said. “What a welcomed gift!”

Read her story here.

For NCRA Mental Health Awareness Week, being held Oct. 5-9, members can learn more about how to take care of themselves through a series of free sessions that range from a discussion of the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in your everyday life with better self-care.

Registration is open now for these free, members-only webinars.

  • Oct. 5 An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from All Stakeholders
  • Oct. 6 Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic
  • Oct. 7 Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality  
  • Oct. 7 (special for students) Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic 
  • Oct. 8 Practicing Mindfulness
  • Oct. 9 Self-Care 101

Some members shared on NCRA’s social media how they are making time for themselves and providing self-care:

Trying to exercise minimum 30 minutes per day. Going to bed earlier … although that means I am getting up even earlier.

Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in North Brunswick, N.J.


Stepping away from editing to go for a walk, using a meditation app, reading about an inspirational person every day. That’s how I try to stay positive.

Jessica Shines, a student in Chicago, Ill.


This is so timely! I just wrote a little something about how I combat Zoom gloom.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in Memphis, Tenn.


I am taking care of myself by working out, meditating, and eating as healthy as I can when I can. It’s super hard to do that with juggling all of these jobs as a mom, court reporter, biz owner, and fiancée.

Denee Vadell, an official in Edison, N.J.


Not only do I love my job as a CART captioner, but my other love is yoga. I’m a certified yoga instructor just about to complete 500 hours of training. I have a regular yoga and meditation practice every morning to help me seize the day. And I leave my mat out all day to remind myself to take breaks in between classes and meetings to stretch or to just breathe.

Anna Castle, RPR, a CART captioner in Mokena, Ill.


I’m volunteering my services for affinity groups and social activism that I believe in, which helps me feel more connected and part of my communities. Part of my mental health is transgender advocacy and language justice work, outside of the standard university and museum and conference spaces of CART — even as I enjoy those, too. By distributing my time across the work that earns money, the work that feels socially generative, and my close nourishing relationships, I feel more productive, balanced, and rejuvenated than when I worked less overall.

Cory Dostie, a CART captioner in Albany, Calif.

Register now for President Phipps’ NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the first virtual NCRA Town Hall with President Christine Phipps, RPR, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19,  at 10 a.m. (Eastern). Phipps will take this opportunity to discuss how NCRA members are coping during the pandemic and what the Association can do to assist them. She will also talk about upcoming webinars NCRA will host during its Mental Health Awareness Week Oct. 4-11. Phipps will be joined by NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC. The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Slate of NCRA nominees

NCRA’s Nominating Committee announced the following nominees to fill the open seats on the NCRA Board of Directors for the 2020-2021 year. The slate includes nominations for President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Director seats for three-year terms.

President

Christine Phipps, RPR, North Palm Beach, Fla.

Christine Phipps, RPR

Christine Phipps is a court reporter with 27 years of experience. She owns Phipps Reporting, Inc., headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla. She holds the national professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She is also a licensed court reporter in New Jersey and Tennessee and is an Eclipse software trainer.

At the national level, Phipps has co-chaired NCRA’s Technology Committee and Freelance Community of Interest Committee and served on the Association’s Strategic Alliance Task Force, its Education Content and Vendor Task Force committees. Phipps participated in the rewrite of NCRA’s Deposition Handbook, is a frequent contributor to the JCR, and a speaker at conventions. She has also served as a Director for NCRA and as Vice President and President-Elect.

She is the recipient of a number of business awards, including Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s Leadership Association and Most Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine. In 2016, she earned the Individual Member Award for the inaugural JCR Awards, and in 2017 she was named South Florida District Small Business Woman-Owned Person of the Year. Her firm was included in Inc. magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America every year since 2014, achieving Honor Roll status in 2018 for being on the list for five consecutive years.

President-elect

Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah

Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC

Debra A. Dibble is a 30-year court reporter veteran who began her career working in the judicial arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Memphis, Tenn. She holds the nationally recognized professional credentials of Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC), and she has qualified in the National Speed and National Realtime competitions multiple times. She also holds the Realtime Systems Administrator Certification and has provided broadcast captioning and CART services for more than a decade.

At the state level, Dibble served on the Utah Court Reporters Board of Directors for 10 years, serving as the president for two years, and receiving the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

At the national level, Dibble has served as an NCRA Chief Examiner, as a delegate to the National Committee of State Associations from 2008 to 2012, and on numerous NCRA committees. Dibble has served on the NCRA’s Board of Directors for eight years, including a three-year term as Secretary- Treasurer. She has also served as a presenter at the national and state levels.

In addition to earning her Utah CSR, she is also certified in California, Nevada, and Texas and has been a grand jury reporter in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Dibble also served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) for three years. For the past year plus, she has been leading the team dedicated to turning the vision of a new professionals training program sponsored by the Foundation, now known as NCRF Career Launcher, into a reality.

Vice president

Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, CRR, Webster, N.Y.

Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, CRR

Meredith A. Bonn, a graduate of Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., has been a court reporter since 1990. She was named official senior court reporter in 2007 for the Seventh Judicial District in the New York State court system where she is assigned to the Rochester courthouse. From 2000 to 2007, she served as an official court reporter assigned to City and Family Court. She worked as a freelance court reporter from 1990

to 2000.  She also holds the New York State Certified Shorthand Reporter and New York

State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA) Realtime Court Reporter certifications.

She is a current member of NYSCRA and served as a member of its Board for six years. She is a current member of the StenoCAT Users Group. Bonn is also actively involved with promoting the court reporting profession to students and to the general public. She is a frequent presenter for the Careers in the Courthouse program and a mentor to several students. Bonn is also the creator and presenter of the Power of the Positive Attitude presentation and the coordinator of the NCRA A to Z® Intro  to Steno Machine Shorthand program in the Western New York area.

On the national level, Bonn has served for three years as a Director and serves on

the Finance, Policies & Procedures, and the NCRA A to Z committees.

Secretary-treasurer

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR, San Antonio, Texas

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR

Kristin M. Anderson is an official court reporter for Bexar County Civil District Court. She holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). With more than 20 years of experience, she has worked both as a freelance reporter in Kansas and Missouri and as an official court reporter for Illinois and Kansas.

Anderson worked for the U.S. District Court Western District of Texas from 2013 through 2017 and has her Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) designation with the United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA).

At the national level, Anderson is a past chair of the National Committee of State

Associations and served on that committee in various capacities from 2006 through 2014. She also served on the Veterans Liaison Committee of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee, the Membership and Telemarketing Committee, and the Steno Opportunities in the Courts Task Force.

At the state level, Anderson has served in numerous positions and on various com- mittees for the Kansas Court Reporters Association, including as president for two terms. She served on the Texas Court Reporters Association Convention and Ethics Committees in 2015-2016. Anderson is a member of the Bexar County Court Reporters Association, Texas Court Reporters Association, Texas Depositions Reporters Association, the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting (better known as STAR), and USCRA.

Director

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, Fort Collins, Colo.

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

Jason T. Meadors began his career in court reporting while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1978. He has worked as a freelance court reporter and an official reporter and has owned his own firm since 1989. Meadors holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).

During his career, Meadors has reported in nearly two dozen states, as well as in China, Colombia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, and Taiwan.

At the national level, Meadors has served on numerous NCRA committees, as well as on the Board of Directors and as Secretary-Treasurer. He is also a contributor to the JCR magazine and has presented seminars at the national and state levels.

His volunteer service has included numerous positions with the leadership of the Colorado Court Reporters Association, including as president. He also served on numerous committees as a member and or chair. In 2000, Meadors was awarded the association’s Distinguished Service Award. He also was the recipient of its 1996, 2001, and 2008 Presidential Appreciation Award.

He and his wife, Sherri, have been married for 46 years. They have three children and six grandchildren. Meadors is also an avid writer and photographer.

Director

Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, Waukee, Iowa

Cathy L. Penniston, RPR, CRI

Cathy L. Penniston is a teacher and broadcast captioner from Waukee, Iowa. Penniston spent 30 years working as an official court reporter for the state of Iowa before receiving a realtime cap- tioning training grant and transitioning into a remote television broadcast captioning career. She has also worked as a freelance court reporter and a CART provider. Penniston currently teaches reporting classes at the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa. She also works as an independent broadcast captioner.

Penniston has served as president, vice president, and secretary of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. She has volunteered multiple times to assist with the annual National Court Reporters Foundation phone-a-thon fundraising campaign and the Veterans History Project.

Penniston is the recipient of the Roy Voelker Memorial Award for Distinguished Service for the court reporting profession of the state of Iowa. She is also the recipient of the Indian Hills Com- munity College Vision Award Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.

Penniston holds a master’s degree in Education from Clarke University, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Iowa Wesleyan College, an associate’s degree from Indian Hills Community College, and an associate’s degree in Court Reporting from the American Institute of Business. She holds the national professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI).

At the national level, Penniston has served on numerous NCRA committees and enjoys leading the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand sessions. She has served as a member of the NCRA Board of Directors since 2018.

Register now to attend the August 2020 Board of Directors meeting

NCRA members are invited to attend the Aug. 6 meeting of the Board of Directors being held virtually at 9 a.m. Eastern, in lieu of the annual business meeting. Registration for the meeting closes at 4 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 5.

NCRA Board meetings are open to members who wish to observe their elected leaders in action.

Effective governance requires that Directors feel comfortable engaging in frank, open, and direct conversations as they attempt to identify, assess, and ultimately decide among all possible options for action. Members attending the meeting should keep this in mind and listen with an open mind. Opinions expressed or comments offered by individual Board members in the course of discussions prior to formal action by the Board should not be construed as the official position of the Board or the Association.

Both as a practical matter and for legal reasons, the minutes of the meeting are the final and only official record of the meeting and its actions.

The agenda for Board meetings will be posted to the NCRA website as soon as it becomes available. Consistent with Robert’s Rules of Order, only Board members are permitted to participate in the discussions. Guests may be given the opportunity to make comments.

While the vast majority of the Board’s work is conducted in open session, the Board will consider from time to time confidential or legally sensitive information, and those discussions will be conducted in executive session. At such times, observing members will be asked to leave the room.

Register here.

Register now for President Curry’s last NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the next virtual NCRA Town Hall scheduled for Saturday, July  25 at 10 a.m. (Eastern). This will be the last Town Hall hosted by NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, as he moves into the role of Immediate Past President in August. Curry will take this opportunity to discuss the upcoming NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference happening Aug. 7-9. He will also look back at some of the happenings that took place during his tenure, including the shoutout for court reporting by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, the launch of the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) certification, and how NCRA’s Board of Directors and the Association worked to provide virtual educational offerings and a variety of valuable resources to assist members during the COVID-19 crisis.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Message from the STRONG Task Force

Your NCRA Board of Directors and STRONG Task Force want to share the following NCRA Resolution and information with you, our members, so you will be aware of its existence and some of the measures we intend to take to make the users of our services understand how seriously NCRA takes ensuring access to justice for the public by providing accurate speech-to-text translation.

NCRA supports individuals through education and certification, promotion of the stenographic profession throughout the legal industry, and defense of the industry in government. To that end, in February of 2019, NCRA’s STRONG Task Force was created and tasked with the research and development of materials to address emerging challenges to our profession from digital, artificial intelligence (AI), automatic speech recognition (ASR), or video-only means of capturing the record in lieu of a skilled and trained stenographer.

Over the course of the past year’s research, it has become apparent that NCRA needs to conduct a robust investigation of fact-based data gathered nationwide across multiple platforms. Data provided by forensic experts who are engaged in forensic examinations of audio and video media and authentication of recordings/digital data indicate a need to further examine potential problems and security issues that may arise when utilizing digital, artificial intelligence (AI), automatic speech recognition (ASR) software, or video-only means of capturing the spoken word in lieu of a stenographic reporter or captioner.

By way of example, NCRA STRONG member Christopher Day, RPR, has recently released a powerful and compelling video demonstration of the ease of manipulating an audio file with off-the-shelf software. He walks us through the changing of testimony that would be nearly undetectable without the skills of a digital forensic examination of the contents.

Because of the potential impact utilization of unproven technology could have on the practice of law and the public’s trust in the judicial system and accessibility, NCRA believes providing information and data to the end users of our services informs them of some of the dangers associated with alternative methods. It is for that reason the STRONG Task Force, together with NCRA’s Board of Directors, drafted this resolution.

NCRA intends to distribute this resolution in a press release in the weeks ahead.